Gonzaga can forget about a fourth undefeated run through the West Coast Conference under coach Mark Few.
A bigger concern should be a visit to Loyola Marymount.
The 21st-ranked Bulldogs look to rebound from their most lopsided conference loss in Few’s 13 seasons Saturday night in Los Angeles, where they’ll take on a Lions team going for its third victory over a ranked opponent in 2011-12.
Since Few took over in 1999, Gonzaga has a 153-19 record in WCC play, finishing 14-0 in 2003-04, ’05-06 and ’08-09. The Bulldogs are vying for their 12th consecutive regular-season conference title, but their chance of another unblemished league record ended Thursday with a 83-62 road loss to Saint Mary’s.
Gonzaga (13-3, 3-1) had won a season-high eight in a row and its first three in conference play by an average of 29.7 points.
“We could never get consecutive stops,” Few said. “… They just thoroughly outplayed us.”
The Bulldogs won both meetings with Loyola Marymount last season by a combined 30 points, but this is a different Lions team than the one that finished tied at the bottom of the WCC in 2010-11 at 2-12.
Loyola Marymount (10-7, 3-1) defeated then-No. 17 UCLA 69-58 on Nov. 11 and won 75-68 over then-No. 23 St. Louis 18 days later.
The Lions’ 74-66 home win over then-No. 13 Gonzaga on Feb. 18, 2010, was their first over a ranked team since the 1990 NCAA tournament.
Loyola Marymount has a ways to go before it can start thinking about returning to the NCAAs for the first time since the 1989-90 squad advanced to the regional final, but coach Max Good’s team brings in plenty of momentum following back-to-back road wins over San Diego and Pepperdine.
The Lions held those two to a combined 38.7 percent shooting.
“I thought our defense during our key second-half run was huge,” Good said following Thursday’s 68-58 victory over the Waves. “This was a good win for us.”
Loyola Marymount, though, is far from satisfied with the team’s best conference start since 2005-06.
“We’re ready for Gonzaga,” said sophomore forward Godwin Okonji, who finished with nine rebounds and four blocks Thursday. “… They better get prepared to come play us too.”
Lions guard Jarred DuBois could miss his second consecutive game due to a concussion, but the Zags’ backcourt of Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell and Mike Hart could have their hands full with Anthony Ireland.
The sophomore point guard is shooting 10 for 18 from 3-point range in WCC action and averaging 18.5 points during that stretch.
Ireland posted his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in a 79-59 defeat at Gonzaga last Jan. 15, and he scored seven points with a season-high seven turnovers in a 67-57 home loss to the Bulldogs on Feb. 10.
Zags center Robert Sacre, who had nine points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in that matchup, has just 11 points and 11 rebounds in the last two games.
Lions forward Drew Viney, scoring 16.6 points per game, is averaging 17.3 in four contests against the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga has lost just four times in its last 40 games versus Loyola Marymount.